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Deputy Police Chief Gasior on the firing line
By Dave McKinney | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 8/4/2009 5:03 PM | Updated: 8/4/2009 10:09 PM

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Originally published Jan. 15, 1993

For almost a week now, Palatine Deputy Police Chief Walt Gasior has been the face attached to a murder investigation that has drawn national attention

Never in his 10 years as one of the department's top administrators has this police officer been under such public scrutiny as in the days following the murders of seven people at Brown's Chicken & Pasta restaurant.

While he's not directly involved in the hour-by-hour gathering of clues in the investigation, he is the person on television each night who must answer to an information-starved media and public.

Gasior, 40, says he is trying to be as informative as possible. But no matter if a question about the investigation is phrased seven different ways, his response generally has been a flat retort: "No comment."

"I understand why they're saying that They don't want to send the wrong signal out, and I figure they're trying to protect whatever evidence they have," said Phil Campanella, owner of Regina's Cafe and More, directly across from Brown's.

"But it would be nice if they could tell us more so you'd know if this was a robbery as opposed to some kind of vendetta."

The approach to keep most details in the case secret also has drawn sharp rebukes from the media. But Gasior downplays the amount of stress generated from such confrontations with the media.

"It's all part of my job." said Gasior, who has been deputy chief since 1982. "We have people who have spent days at that crime scene. That's much more stressful and intense than my dealing every day with a bunch of reporters."

Gasior is not the first cop or government public information officer to experience interrogation and criticism from frustrated members of the media. In the days immediately following a major crime, every detail about a case rarely becomes public. To do so could breach an investigation or add to the anguish of grieving survivors.

"When you deal with multiple murders, a certain degree of sensitivity needs to be used when doling out information to the media,"' said Vincent Partipilo, who heads the Milwaukee Police Department's detective bureau and was the key media contact in the Jeffrey Dahmer killings of 17 young men.

"You would be amazed how many times we need to deal with family members upset about what is said about an investigation," Partipilo said.